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Wayward Side :
"The Work"

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 foreverlabeled (original poster member #52070) posted at 12:18 AM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

I have some thoughts on my original "Work" post 4 years after writing it and nearly 6 years post dday. A lot has changed and I credit my determination. I credit my willingness and courage. And proud to say the self-worth I took back, remorse that filled me with a true desire to change and to not give up on myself ever again. (And I forever credit SI)

Mentally and emotionally I'm in a very different place than when I wrote the first version, but in that post are the things that carried me through to the woman I am today.

The original post is as follows.


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"Whatever our issues are, no matter what we are fixing, getting your shit together requires a level of honesty you can’t even imagine." There was nothing easy about realizing I was the one that’s been holding myself back this whole time and having to admit I've let myself down in the worst way. It was harder to admit that I already knew my character was flawed even before I was cheating. I just didn’t care enough about myself to ask why and what I can do about it. That would take change, and change is hard, right?

I learned quickly that I was fighting two fronts. Essentially, on my BS’s front I’m working to "get it" and on my front I’m working to "own it". And it seems my work was different yet the same on both fronts. And at some point, owning it became all I could do for us and for myself anymore.

I had to start somewhere, and I saw two things that I did have complete control over and worked towards strengthening both fronts.

1. The truth

2. Blame-shifting

But, I went into self-preservation mode on dday and to do these things didn’t come as a natural response for me. This is actually a common thing, not saying it’s right, just human nature. Its often referred to as cheater script because we lie, deny and minimize trying to save ourselves and control the fallout in our favor. To achieve that we all basically say and do the same stuff because it’s the only way "out". It wasn’t physical, it’s your fault, It was only, this only that. It’s a psychological reaction, the stress response kicking in. We go into survival mode. I often suspect TT, defensiveness, victimhood, and a whole host of obstacles are due to remaining in this acute stress response. Realize, my survival is all about me, right? A person gets selfish and desperate, I learned for survival to go CYA mode. It all fits the cheater script doesn’t it?

Except, now I’m learning that if I wanted to survive with H, I’d have to go about it differently. I would have to start with those two things and continue with everything that I learned in "HTHYSHFYA" by MacDonald which is also the basics I learned here. I would like to credit my remorse for following through with these things, sadly I think a large part of it was simply basic instinct to survive. Don’t get me wrong I was deeply sorry and wanted to make things right and if it weren’t for that, maybe my survival would have looked different. I have even thought that perhaps I needed the adrenaline of survival to act on my remorse. It was hard stuff getting the truth out there, I was crazy afraid of it. IDK, but the point is that I had to actively work to get myself out of this survival mode. I can’t grow there. So I practiced the opposite of selfishness and desperation.

1. Compassion

2. Humility

3. Gratitude

By practicing these in my life basically every second of every day to everyone and everything *including myself* the more I moved out of the stress response. IC was really good for this too. But, it wasn’t enough because I still felt at any moment EVERYTHING could blow up (and there was truth to that) so I was still on guard, still stressed. An extra step was needed.

Letting go of the outcome.

This was so hard for me to do and still is when I get an idea in my head. I think a lot of us struggle here. From what I understand desire for a specific outcome is healthy, attachment? not so much. Attachment is where feelings of false control breed. When so much energy is put into one outcome you can become blind to everything else. Letting go of surviving this with my H started with detaching from that idea. Of course I didn’t want to. And as hard as it is to face the scary unknown, that (the M, surviving this with him) in and of itself was already determined an unknown. I was surrounded by unknowns and quite frankly always have been. Life is one great big unknown after all.

That realization at the time was both terrifying and reassuring all at once and a transition began to take place. The more I could convince myself that I didn’t need to be in a constant state of survival, the more I could relax and open myself up to my H and really get it. AND open myself up to myself to really own it.

I had a huge problem though. My biggest difficulty early on was getting lost in the fearful feelings. The moment I started indulging fear I became engrossed in reactionary thoughts and feelings. Anxiety inducing thoughts because often my reaction was to go straight to catastrophe. My thoughts of myself were extremely negative as well and the emotions attached would take me so low. This obviously had to change, so I learned a handy little tool to help with that. And it was as easy as challenging these thoughts. And so, every time I noticed a negative thought I stopped it and replaced it with something else, sometimes being only slightly less negative, but it was a start. These days I can’t remember the last time I truly put myself down and meant it, and it’s only because I started here. Challenging my thoughts meant opening them up to new/different thoughts and ideas.

That ultimately worked its way to challenging and changing my beliefs. This was the crux of my work, I think of it as my own Age of Enlightenment. I started questioning everything and discarding long held beliefs that didn’t serve me anymore. But before I could just throw things out all willy-nilly, I sat down and started to compile a list of what I valued. I needed something to reference. Honesty/Truth was at the top of my list suddenly. I had this belief that lying was a problem solver. That belief neither serves me or my values. So that one could go...like it’s that easy huh? It’s not, I promise you that. I still feel a pull to this belief it was so ingrained. I practice honesty every day, rewiring or forming new habits, whatever you want to call it takes dedication and hard work. Who knew you actually had to protect and cherish it. Or y’know in other words, value it if it was to be long lasting.

I put a lot of thought in my values and how I’ve expressed them in my actions. I said I valued family, but my actions destroyed my family. I also questioned if my current values even have meaning to me. Turns out some things I valued was only because I was taught to. It had no substance to me upon real examination of my true self. I started with my values for fundamental reasons. I found myself needing to pour a new foundation of my own, what went into that foundation was going to determine well, me.

So, it takes getting honest and worse becoming VULNERABLE with yourself, that’s where the REAL work begins. This almost did me in, the introspection. Not even kidding I wanted to stop here. Nope, fuck that, you can’t make me. This was actually a daily argument I had with myself. I’ve spent a life time keeping all of this inside me "protected" and to open it up risks exposure and emotional harm or so I thought. It was just another false belief. At some point I was listening to a pod cast about my Briggs personality type of all things and I heard vulnerability and introspection described like this; Imagine there is a dragon inside of you (my fears of turning inward) then think about what dragons guard, GOLD. Slay the dragon (conquer your fears) and you’ll have all the riches in life (authenticity, self-worth, joy, health, it’s endless). I took that as an absolute truth and it encouraged me to go there. But however you want to think of it here’s the bottom line, I went there and better off for it.

I won’t lie and say it was a beautiful experience every moment of the way discovering myself and once in, I wanted to give up every day for months. Then something happened as I started doing this work, it wasn’t as painful as time went on. I was actually eager to learn everything I possibly could about what makes me, me. And how to authentically live. Be unapologetically the BEST me. The real me. I wanted to wholeheartedly love myself for the first time ever and nurture that hurt child within.

It meant a lot of acceptance as well. Accepting that I haven’t exactly been the best person and I need to own the bad-for-me choices I've made and the ugly choices hurting others (beyond the scope of infidelity too). I didn’t have to go through it all one by one, I just had to practice a general forgiveness. I wasn’t giving my best in life, sometimes I think along the way my stress response kicked on and never turned off. Life seemed about survival and it’s all about selfishly looking out for number one. On the flip-side, I needed to accept the good too. I can assure you in the moment I didn’t see much good, but I knew I wasn't a heartless monster. I made good choices in life, worthy of recognition. During my struggle with introspection I often spoke about acceptance and the power in it.

I need to mention something though. None of this would have been possible without a few things.

First, I had a true desire in every sense of the word for change. I will never be grateful for the destruction I caused to gain this desire, it was the destruction itself that provided me this want. I didn’t want to be a person capable of such extreme abuse EVER again. Whatever it took. I am not an abuser and that is exactly what I did. THAT’S not me in my core. That sadly was my life’s pain expressing itself in an abusive form. I can fix this.

Second, I needed tools because I didn’t know how to fix this.

Knowledge, the most useful of all tools. I knew I was out of my element on dday, my first internet search was "I cheated how do I help my husband". There it was, all the knowledge I could ever ask for at my fingertips. I didn’t waste any time diving right in. I learned all about what his healing would look like and mine. It grew into more than that, I was actively seeking knowledge in all things.

IC was a must because I didn’t know what "healthy" looked like and without understanding it, I wasn’t going to change much. When that wasn’t an option I was reading a lot of self-help. I was careful when considering my whys. I’ve seen strong attachments form to FOO and other reasons that border on excuses. My self-help approach wasn’t so much finding out why I have these issues but more so, how do I fix these issues.

Mindfulness is a technique that helps me practice honesty. It’s a tool I use when I want to keep anything in my conscious, to y’know, be mindful about. I would take honesty moment by moment with awareness, keeping it in my forethoughts. It’s diligent work. Sometimes no matter how much I practice, a lie would just come out (something insignificant) and I would want to correct myself immediately, "Sorry that was actually a lie, they weren’t really out of milk I just forgot". Yeah, things like that. And by valuing honesty and putting my thoughts there, a knee jerk reaction to stop and tell the truth started taking place. We talk about rewiring of the brain, there it was, in action.

Coping turned out to be a tool I needed to RElearn.

And so on it goes.

Third, courage. When we take on ourselves it feels like a lot at first and maybe it is. Some of us have done years of avoiding. It’s going to take a lot of determination and courage to keep up the fight. When it gets hard I stop myself (try to) and acknowledge, it is what it is. Sometimes I would get so uncomfortable just peeking in a box, my thoughts and feelings would freeze up on me and I couldn’t go there. It’s okay to say not today, I’ll try again tomorrow. I had to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, I knew that much. It’s not so easy but, totally doable, and courage helps.

Fourth, I actually had to DO the work. One of my favorite proverbs for this, "If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking." Sometimes it felt more like I was crawling or dragging my feet. I would get lost and circle around. I would stop to dig in or rest. But what I valued more than giving up was perseverance (a new one btw). And so, I kept progressing.

Today my work doesn’t feel like the hard work it once did. It only feels like a responsibility I owe to myself, which is taking an interest in my greater self and trying to love whatever authentic me comes from it.


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I thought it would be interesting to kinda break down some of the original post and share my perspective on a few things where I stand today.

Whatever our issues are, no matter what we are fixing, getting your shit together requires a level of honesty you can’t even imagine.

I still love this quote. Its a good tipping off point. It sets the stage because its true. In the beginning the honesty I had to face was very basic, but very difficult. Because not many selfish people can easily do that. Its more than uncomfortable and it requires you to think a different way. One that you're not used to, so you need to create a habit. The thing about developing habits is that its much more harder to create one that doesn't deliver instant gratification. And this is far from feel good work.

And I found that in order to begin, what I needed more than anything was a few simple but tough truths.

In the beginning it was the truth and owing it. In a time that felt like chaos reigned and everything was out of my control there was very little I could do to help the situation, but the things I could do, they would have a lasting impact.

It was hard to get to this point,

- this is who you are
-these were your actions
- I'm an abuser
-my actions caused serious trauma

It wasn't hard to understand, it was hard to accept it. Not only accept it but to then do something about it.

It was important to acknowledge the baseline. Come face to face with it. Rip the bandaid off. Put myself on the table and see myself for what for who I am. I could hardly ascribe to the narrative of "I'm a good person who did a bad thing". Abusive people are not good people. So I tried this on, "I did this and its not who I want to be" or "I don't have to be this person ever again, I can be wholesome". It wasn't that I was trying to talk myself down, but if my goal was honesty then it had to be applied carefully and thoroughly to every aspect of the situation even if it didn't put me in good light.

Because the truth of the matter was that my character was severely depleted. It just didn't always present itself as infidelity, until of course it did. But, after an honest assessment it was very clear, my life choices were riddled with proof of low standing character.

I mentioned a couple months in that I felt like I betrayed myself first, and it led the way to betraying others. And we do, I have no doubt. My thoughts behind this are that we pretend to be someone we are not, hardly conscious to the fact. Often times I was very unkind to myself and even more untrue to myself. I would sometimes feel obligated to play a role rather than confront. Telling myself its okay when its not. Placing my worth in the hands of others rather than taking ownership. And that my friends is a dangerous game and probably the worst absolute way I betrayed myself above all else. By doing that I put myself on constant defense AND preservation. That makes for a very selfish person and a need to protect one's self at all costs.  Which equals very little room for good character. Good character and a value system that works. I just didn't know that, how could I? It was the only way (at the time) I knew how to live, and be.

There was nothing easy about realizing I was the one that’s been holding myself back this whole time and having to admit I've let myself down in the worst way.

I still often think about this, analyze it, learn from it. It was a realization that I came to me very early in my work. It seems simple enough but at the time it felt like a great awakening, like I had just unlocked all the secrets to the universe. It seemed so simple as an after thought, in hindsight picking through the pieces.

And more than anything is that it pierced through my ego and humbled me in many ways. I experienced an ego death of sorts. Which was like a switch flipped and dramatically altered my state of consciousness and reality and was all of a sudden a thing to explore. It happened in the most chaotic and traumatizing moment I've ever experienced. It was ugly. It was uncomfortable. And I couldn't unknow/unsee the new reality and all that was before me.

But still my ego it wasn't ready for that reality check on dday. I literally did EVERYTHING wrong on that day. Lied, denied, blame shifting, deflected, only admitted to what he knew and even then tried to gaslite. Last ditch effort I suppose, that pesky ego trying to persevere. I remember waking up the next morning with a level of remorse that only slightly succeeded my ego. It was definitely stronger than my need or will to go backwards, and I couldn't bare to cause any more damage, to him or myself.

I was ready, I was willing, I just didn't know how to go about it. I didn't fully understand what it would take and the level of perseverance it would require. I didn't have a clue what it would actually require from me. I didn't know anything, except that I hurt someone deeply and the pain I faced when I looked at him was far more important than anything else in the world. I was prepared to do anything if it meant healing.

But, I went into self-preservation mode on dday and to do these things didn’t come as a natural response for me.

In my original post I talked so much about self preservation and the stress response, and while it all is very relevant, as you can see what I've come to think is that ego had just as much hand in my self destruction. In fact my ego was the driving force behind those things. I had such low worth my ego worked over time to defend me, but it didn't serve me. These things were working in the background in my life for years and then dday happened and all three things hit me like a ton of bricks. Knocked the breath right out of me. Threw me into my own shock of sorts on dday. I felt scared, paralyzed, grasping at anything to prevent the big changes ahead of me/us. I was at war with myself, head and heart. My heart was in it, but my mind kept asking are you sure? I needing to do things that now required me to act without thought.

What I mean by that is utilizing the thought process I was working with would not help me in my situation. Because at the time if put too much thought into something, I'd surely be tempted to talk myself out of the right thing and into what would make me most comfortable. Any given thought that came to me was for my own (selfish/comfortable) good, not the greater good. So basically I either had to completely shut them off or just did the opposite of my knee jerk reaction. And I would have to act quickly before I talked myself out of anything. These were my "tactics" especially in the first few weeks. This was especially true in getting the details out and clearing away the rubble from the nuke I dropped.  Once the truth and details were out there and we were standing on my hill of deciet and lies rather than buried under them, we at least had a starting point and knew what we had to work with. Not only that but after you have nothing to hide there's not much left to protect. But it didn't stop there, oh my gawd was there so much more.

I had to actively work to get myself out of this survival mode. I can’t grow there. So I practiced the opposite of selfishness and desperation.

I was surrounded by unknowns and quite frankly always have been.

That realization at the time was both terrifying and reassuring all at once and a transition began to take place.

To this day I'm really not sure how I achieved that. Looking back I know I took steps in that direction, like having courage, and practicing honesty, a WHOLE bunch of self talk, humbling myself, letting go of the outcome. But I can't recall now the moment it happened, the moment I surrendered myself to the process. I know I had to talk myself into it and I remember the way it felt, that feeling is definitely something that has stayed with me. It was a submission, not in a defeated way, more like.. well, letting go. Once that happened many of my fears went with it.  There was still plenty that frightened me, but not in a way that would hold me back.

And I just cannot stress this enough, one of our members said to me very early in my process "you have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable" and I'm forever grateful. I don't know why that piece of advice stuck so deeply or why it was something that carried me through my work, but it did. Probably because it was first, very true in every sense of the path that was before me. And it was like naming something. There was recognition. I knew what could come my way and there was less power in it. Like, I could prepare for it. Though it wasn't always that easy, not by a long shot. But, it helped more than anything else I sometimes think.

And it plays very much into my next thoughts.

I've come to learn that your ego is a very unyielding thing. It has job and its work ethic is unmatched. It doesn't take days off, no vacation, working 24/7. Its job is to create a set of beliefs, patterns, and ideas, amd this is what you are essentially made of,  how you put yourself out into the world. Your ego is very defensive about this. Anything outside of those thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors will be rejected or in simple terms, make you feel extremely uncomfortable. The ego doesn't want you to change. And any resistance will feel like an attack on yourself. When you are caught up in it its very difficult to see it for what is actually going on.

I couldn't put as many words to what I know now as I did then. I just knew that I had to pay attention to my thoughts, challenge them when I needed to, and ultimately work that into challenging and changing my beliefs, and reevaluating my core values. It was hard hard work to go against the grain.

Did I already mention this was hard work? Here I've spent my life believing and thinking in certain ways that I haven't consciously chosen. The ego ever on guard. The process to rewire that is where the most discomfort I've ever experienced. I know I'm talking about the ego a lot, but its what I've learned that we are up against. You have to challenge it, observe it, rewire it. Teach it to protect you as you are now, and not to keep you tied to the past. The secret to change is to focus on the new, not the old. This focuses on a shift of consciousness and its the only way I know to make real sustainable change. And it takes practice, patience, and above all courage. Lots of courage.

So, it takes getting honest and worse becoming VULNERABLE with yourself, that’s where the REAL work begins. This almost did me in, the introspection. Not even kidding I wanted to stop here. Nope, fuck that, you can’t make me.

This is what it felt like facing my ego. I again didn't know at the time what the hell I was facing or trying to weave my way through. Introspection is becoming aware of ego, its observation of it. Its saying hi, I see you. Its listening to your "I" statements, allowing your self to form different opinions from it and sitting with the uncomfortable feelings that follow. Its busting through the illusion. You essentially become your own enemy because your ego perceives you as one. It doesn't want you to challenge it. So when you begin its going to suck. You're gonna want to give up. You aren't going to feel comfortable going there. Its going to look like you are standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest and your destination is the top. None of us are equipped to make that trek so its going to feel like a whole lot of "nope".

But you really aren't climbing the mountain, you aren't really in danger. Doing this is definitely NOT going to physically hurt you.

I have been thinking a lot lately about why some cheaters have succes while many many more do not. I don't have all the answers but I suspect in all actuality it is once again the ego at play. But what no can predict is who has the courage to face it head on. And even worse there's no instant/near instant indication that a cheater is doing this work. I think white knuckling and the work can often look the same for quite some time. I think too, there are subtle ways in which you might have an idea one way or the other, but its typically unique to the individual and you'll have to know them well to see the slight changes in their actions, but after a certain point you must look to their thought process, the words they speak, their outlook. Yes, I think actions first then their new personality. Or rather the combination of the two.

I'm literally a different person today. I don't think the same, I'm more careful in my thoughts, slower to consider, more open minded, less black and white. My personality is not the same. I mean I'm still outgoing, hilarious, sensitive, lazy, and still quick to take things personally but now I'm more disciplined, reliable, careful to weigh options, honest.

But however you want to think of it here’s the bottom line, I went there and better off for it.

I can still attest to this statement.

I won’t lie and say it was a beautiful experience every moment of the way discovering myself and once in, I wanted to give up every day for months.

And this one.

Then something happened as I started doing this work, it wasn’t as painful as time went on.

And most importantly this one.

As with anything that  starts from the beginning it is there that the challenges present themselves. I've done a lot of hard things in my life. Where I've had to demonstrate courage when all I've felt was fear, and this is no exception. But that feeling doesn't last forever. Its a drop in the bucket. Its easy for me to say that now, but for some of you, I've been right where you are now. It sucks. Its fucking hard. I can honestly say that I never want to be in your shoes ever again. That experience is a one and done for me thank you very much. I say that with all the empathy in world. But I'm here to tell you it gets better. Better than you could ever imagine.

The goal isn't to get rid of your ego, that's not possible. Its to become aware and understand how to work with it, not to let it ride on autopilot. It dictates so much in our everyday life, its hard for me fathom sometimes. We start in on our whys and as human nature goes there must be something that causes our cheating. Some life changing event, foo, midlife crisis. It is a crisis, an ego crisis. You know I once read something that said the ego keeps you out of touch with your reality and my god how much that resonated with me. Because I was! Are cheaters not? Of course we are. Not only that but it creates unreal expectations and a reliance on external validation.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate that?


I mean if that's not fitting for each and every one of us, I don't know what is then. You don't have to trace your ability to cheat down too far. I think a lot of time is wasted on that. I know it goes against digging into your whys but its not something I spent much time on, and I think I did just fine. I'm not suggesting anything just sharing my experience.

Out if touch with reality
Unrealistic expectations
Need for external validation
Selfishness
Instant gratification


I decided that was all I needed to know to turn this ship around. Besides it was enough work to last me years.

It took me two years to reach my thoughts in my first post and probably another two to expand and grown even on that. I'm not sure it ever really stops but the intensity is far from where it started and my comfort level has settled into something I am.... comfortable with. Its not work anymore, its just who I am. A new habit, a new outlook, the rewire is done. Now that that has been achieved, what I am left with is simply living well with it all. Because of the work I care very deeply about my values, I care to guard myself and my worth. I cannot personally accept less from myself ever again. That was my destination when I took off and the long term gratification I have received from my accomplishments will last me for the rest of my life. And I'll keep getting those hits so long as I stay the course. How could I ever betray myself like that again? It just doesn't seem feasible.

I need to mention something though. None of this would have been possible without a few things.

I could easily list the same things again. It was instrumental in starting this work. Those same things still ring true even today.

Desire
Knowledge
Coping
Courage
Hard work

It looks different today but that's because I've had a lot of practice. When I started out I was terrified and often found myself unable to put one foot in front of the other. It didn't come easy that's for sure, but I also didn't have the knowledge/knowhow, I just knew that I was going see myself through by any means necessary. Besides my ever growing curiosity and knowledge for healing, nothing was going to happen if I did have these,

First, I had a true desire in every sense of the word for change. I will never be grateful for the destruction I caused to gain this desire, it was the destruction itself that provided me this want.

Third, courage. When we take on ourselves it feels like a lot at first and maybe it is. Some of us have done years of avoiding. It’s going to take a lot of determination and courage to keep up the fight.

You deserve to fight for yourself and to try to right your wrong doings. I promise you it won't be easy, and you're going to want to give up, and you might even a couple times before you get to the point of unwillingness to go backwards. You might not even succeed in your marriage but there is zero excuse to not succeed in yourself. You are worth it a thousand times over.

And that my dear friends is where I'm going to leave this. As always I do hope it has been helpful.


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I thought too after writing the above and condensing this into one post that there were some very smart replies from others and myself that I just wanted to highlight. Of course you can find the original thread here,

https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/628219/ruminating-in-hindsight-my-work/?ap=1

I struggled with the concept of time in the beginning. In fact it was one of the biggest reminders throughout my threads early on.

 

If I resisted anything it was rooted in fear. I was just afraid of it all. And each time I chose courage over my fears the more I believed in myself number one, and the more I wanted to keep going. Courage feels 100x better than the worst of my fears felt.

We get tons of advice about how to help our BS's, I could write pages just on that. What we don't see enough is what our work looks like beyond that.

We are sitting in our same issues on DDAY and after that allowed us to have an affair in the first place.

 

It took me close to 8 months just to get comfortable with the IDEA of introspection, never mind the months passed trying to avoid it or dipping my toes in hardly past the surface.

Knowledge being a powerful tool is so true. I think so many of us are able to fool ourselves once, however when we gain the knowledge we lose the ability to lie to ourselves and others so easily.

acknowledging that you don't have it together yet is not weak, it's strong.

 

I came here often worried about not getting it right still and one BW stopped by to post "you didn't become this way over night and it's going to take longer than a night to fix your shit" another one of those time reminders.

We need to understand that the 2-5 year timeline is really just a season of healing. If we are committed to change (the work describe in this post) will have been proven beyond doubt by this time that we are able and safe for a new M.

 

By placing myself squarely into our reality, it became harder and harder to sell my justifications and defensiveness to him or to myself. I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on and I didn't believe my own cheater script anymore. I asked myself, what are you fighting against?

The only why I cared about was why didn't I develop self-respect sooner? Because had I, I imagine most of my issues would have been long resolved because that's what self-respecting people do.

Turns out today is the day! Letting go of the outcome, lets go a little deeper on this subject. It’s so incredibly hard to do and takes serious dedication and practice if you ask me. Many of us struggle with this.

I mentioned earlier how letting go of the outcome is much like having an attachment to it, well not much like it, it is! Attachment feeds our minds with comfort, that is why this is probably the hardest part of it all. Change takes getting out of your comfort zone, when one does this, we immediately feel unsafe. It's rather natural though. It's easier and more comforting to have a sure idea than to be left with the unknown, because the unknown can be scary for us humans. We like to feel small don’t we, sometimes? As in protected in our safety net. Except this.. confessing/confronted, kinda ripped it wide open. We fall into a mad scramble, panicked, doing what we can with damage control. We think we got this, like we can just put their guts back into place so quickly, nice and neatly. We think we can lie and manipulate to gain control make it less than what it really is. We grasp at anything to take control of the situation. It’s a hard realization that things are actually out of control, your control even. We took what our BSs offered us, love, support, and comfort for granted. Our previous outcome for our lives was fixed and we grew fond of it, attached to the idea it will always be. It’s probably why we have a quick turn around and all of a sudden, they are our world again.

It's not just the unknown of our relationship, this is only a part of it. There are so many things that we just have to release and understand that there is and always has been things out of our control. I never thought of myself as a controlling person, until I realized just how little control I have over things. Small things, big things. We create an illusion under our safety net that everything is okay and we got this, it's all under control. Dday is a sure way to blow that notion out of the water. The truest thing I've come to realize is the only control I have is over myself. That's it, and the more I grew comfortable with that reality, the truest reality, the better I could breathe and let go.

I tend to think of it more like this these days, it's NOT the outcome we have to let go of, it's the unknown we have to embrace. It takes getting out of our comfort-zone, and that alone is an unsafe feeling for us. And now everything is the unknown. The unknown is hard to face, it still freaks me out a bit. To me it feels like I could lose anything at anytime and there’s nothing I can do about it. No one like a loss, but at the same time I could also gain everything. See, there’s no definite outcome no matter what life you are living. You don’t have to be a controlling person to like have control of things, KWIM? I am trying to make friends with the unknown. I mean it is the truest reality, right? Out from under that safety net I see life has always been an unknown, no outcome is ever certain.

This is process of course, we always just say "let go of the outcome" but it’s easier said than done. We don’t tell you how much time and energy are involved to really getting it down, or at least a good start. How uncomfortable it is, scary, painful even. Letting go was also getting comfortable with a process that I didn’t even know where to begin, knew nothing about it and I had to believe it in. It takes courage to walk this path. A lot of it. You’ll feel like you’re doing the hardest shit in your life when you let go of it all. It won’t feel like it for some time, but eventually you will get some peace out of it. This way feels sustainable to me because attachments aren't very healthy. What I want is a true bond with my husband, I don't want to be needy and attached.

somewhere between listening to my H's pain and spewing justifications, I made the decision that I wanted to go about this the right way. I instinctively knew I wasn't helping on dday, but I didn't know what the right way was, so I just rode the day out. That night my research began. Everything was pointing to absolute honesty.

And when I got it all out (including all the details and questions), after that, I thought there's no truth that could be worse than whats been said, and so I made it a thing I do now.

I guess there was something about being honest under these conditions that kick started the rewiring. And to this day I still feel the gratification I got from the courage I displayed in spite of my deep deep fear. In fact I felt it all along the way which only fueled my integrity.

Here's where I think feeling defeated is more fitting. Because I did want to change more than anything. I seriously didn't want to feel broken anymore leaving the debris of self destruction everywhere I went. I lost a war with myself that I didn't know was happening. I could have picked up arms again and continued it, but I made the choice to lay down the weapons of mass self-destruction, hopefully for good.

Sometimes I forget to be mindful, it's hard to walk around all day with a busy life and stay in the moment be mindful of all thoughts and feelings, every word I speak. But the more you work towards getting healthy the more unhealthy sticks out like a sore thumb

Do I feel like I'm running away from something? trying to escape something?
Do I justify my behavior?
Do I feel inauthentic?
I prefer to wear rose-tinted glasses. Idealism as escapism.
When you lie to yourself you will tend to only favor others who reassure you and not challenge you.

So then I asked myself "what" questions. What can I do about that, and answering those questions propelled me forward into taking some real action. What can I do about my low self worth? I gave myself quite the list on how I can fix that.

I couldn't get far if I didn't believe in myself and find cause to love myself.

 

But then what? why stay stuck on why..
Asking what, it takes you out of the victim mentality. And like I mentioned I give myself better answers to move forward. So Yeah, I am better able to get to the root of the problem, then learn how to fix it, and then take action.


****************************

End wink

33 divorced Madhatter
Time is no ones friend, nor their enemy. It moves forward at its own fixed pace, careless of our wants to speed it or slow it.

posts: 2523   ·   registered: Mar. 1st, 2016   ·   location: southeast
id 8689805
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 1:33 AM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Thank you for posting this. Much of the work you did, the way you did it, and the way you felt and the things you struggled with... I feel like much of what you wrote could have come straight from my experiences. This IS hard work, and you described it well. It's hard because it takes a different kind of strength, more than simple desire or sticktoitiveness. You have to give up the internal fight before you can win. You can't do this if you can't get honest with yourself. Fear and shame have to be conquered, and that defiant ego subdued. You need to be vulnerable. And yup, that means all those feelings we hid away and never dealt with, suddenly have to be felt, and experienced, and understood.

But you know what I learned through the process? I learned that carrying all that pain, all of those secrets, the hurt, the fear, the anger, the rage... THAT was harder work than anything! I was so dependent on that version of who I was, that I refused to let it go. In the end, letting it go, made me stronger, and at the same time, released all of those burdens that I defined myself by my whole life. It wasn't really that hard anymore because you start to feel better with each step of progress you make.

This time is a gift, truly. You have the opportunity to redefine yourself, to be someone you love and respect more, to maybe be that person you always dreamed you'd be but didn't achieve yet. We wake up every day and get to choose who we are going to be that day. And if we choose to be honest, loving, modest, caring, hard-working, trustworthy... you name it, you get to be it, simply by living it. You got to be a cheater by living the life of a cheater. You get to move forward the same way. We can never undo what we did, and that sucks, but what we can do is to try and make lemonade from lemons by doing all we can to make things right, and to make sure this never happens again, ever. The way you do that, is to become the kind of person who loves and respects themselves too much to ever sink so low as to cheat, lie and betray. I don't want to be that kind of person anymore, so I won't be.

Thanks again for posting this. As you said, there is a lot of info about damage control and what to do at first, but not so many examples of what it looks like long term, and how to get there. New WS's should save this post and come back to it every few months to see where you at, and get some ideas on where to go next.

((hugs))

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1164   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017   ·   location: Marblehead, MA
id 8689811
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 foreverlabeled (original poster member #52070) posted at 2:21 PM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

But you know what I learned through the process? I learned that carrying all that pain, all of those secrets, the hurt, the fear, the anger, the rage... THAT was harder work than anything! 

Very good point D Dom. I can attest to this. So much work went into carrying those things around. Its a lot of weight to bear. Its an unnecessary burden we place on ourselves and those around us. The mental gymnastics to keep up with it all is exhausting and draining.

Its not until you shed these things that you realize just how heavy it was. Its hard to articulate that feeling, kinda have to experience it for yourself.

I know I walk lighter and breathe deeper these days. Its so much better than the alternative. I believe in the laws of the universe, vibration, attraction, cause and effect to name a few that are working for me and not against me like it seemed they once did. If we're frantic, life will be frantic. If we're peaceful, life will be peaceful.

33 divorced Madhatter
Time is no ones friend, nor their enemy. It moves forward at its own fixed pace, careless of our wants to speed it or slow it.

posts: 2523   ·   registered: Mar. 1st, 2016   ·   location: southeast
id 8689847
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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Moderator #29447) posted at 5:41 PM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

foreverlabeled,

I want to thank you for reposting and adding to an already amazing and thoughtful glimpse at what "doing the work" means and looks like. I feel that it should be required reading for all WS’s that want to make healthy changes.

I remember when I first got here, looking at the amount of years or post counts of those that seemed to be so knowledgeable and together. I desperately wanted to be where they were skipping everything along the way to get there. I hated the concept of time and the pain that went with it. I wanted to be the better person without having to do the work involved to get there.

In hindsight, I understand it’s that work that has enabled me to become the person I am today. I am by no means perfect, nor will I ever be. I have learned to accept some (not all) of my flaws, but I have also learned that much of my flaws are just normal. My insecurities are normal.

Vulnerability is something that I have talked about for many years. I think that learning to be vulnerable has been one of my greatest lessons. Brene Brown said it best…"the people that are the happiest are those that can vulnerable."

It’s funny, I talk about things that I wouldn’t dream of talking about prior to my A. I have body issues, I have insecurities about my intelligence, I’m not the prettiest or the funniest. But. I’m. Me. I’m good with me. I love my husband and my family fiercely. I’m a great mom. I am passionate about my career. I feel more grounded than ever. I’m excited that this is coming at a time that I am becoming an empty nester and get to enjoy life with my best friend.

There are no short cuts, no quick fixes.

We come here defensive and angry, so sure that we are different. The circumstances may be different, but the issues underneath are very similar.

The Wayward Forum has been a quiet place lately. As much as I would like to think it is because there aren’t as many waywards, I don’t believe that is the case. I rather believe that people are actually more afraid of the work. It’s easier to run away from truth than face it head on because in the case of infidelity, the truth hurts a great deal.

I hope that those WS’s lurking will read foreverlabeled’s post and find the courage within them to start on their own journey of authenticity and healing.

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

posts: 14337   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2010   ·   location: Texas
id 8689876
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 8:52 PM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Well, no Stop sign that I saw....

Wow. You've related so much wisdom ... sentence after sentence of wisdom.

I know I'm talking about the ego a lot, but its what I've learned that we are up against. You have to challenge it, observe it, rewire it.

I always question using 'we' to speak for more than oneself. This is one of the relatively few cases where 'we' is absolutely the right word. Your statement applies to all of us who are not being true to ourselves or who want to change.

... But you really aren't climbing the mountain, you aren't really in danger. Doing this is definitely NOT going to physically hurt you. ...

I need to mention something though. None of this would have been possible without a few things.

I could easily list the same things again. It was instrumental in starting this work. Those same things still ring true even today.

Desire

Knowledge

Coping

Courage

Hard work

I just want to add that I think just about all of us have the ability to do this work, even if we don't quite realize it.

I use 'us' above as in 'us human beings'. After all, WSes are human beings before they were WSes. I think many of us get dysfunctional enough that the process you describe is our only way to mental health. Some dysfunctions show up as infidelity; some show up in other areas. I know the only way I could continue to live was by making the same changes described above.

It's easier said than done, but I think it's actually easier overall to change than to maintain the lies we tell ourselves. It sure was for me.

Thanks, forever.

[This message edited by sisoon at 9:07 PM, Thursday, September 23rd]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26163   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8689902
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 8:06 PM on Friday, September 24th, 2021

Thank you FL - this is incredible. I think it should be stickied to the top of the Wayward Forum it's so amazing!

You know what's funny here as I read through this? I am a BS, but so much of all of this applies to me and things I struggle with too. My addictions, my weight, healing from my abusive relationships... so much of this is applicable to me and how I cope with (or don't in some cases) with all those things in my own life. I have written down some of this in my journal - very thought-provoking for me in the best way.

I am so happy for you that you've managed your work and have arrived at such a happier, healthier, and more authentic place. Everyone deserves that peace.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"Being weird is just a side effect of being awesome."– Unknown

posts: 3181   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8690087
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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Moderator #29447) posted at 10:05 PM on Friday, September 24th, 2021

I think it should be stickied to the top of the Wayward Forum it's so amazing!

I’m already talking about that with MH grin

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

posts: 14337   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2010   ·   location: Texas
id 8690109
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GreenRanger21 ( new member #78987) posted at 4:24 AM on Saturday, September 25th, 2021

Always appreciate your insight FL. I have been examining a lot of things for myself, and I feel like your specific words

You don't have to trace your ability to cheat down too far. I think a lot of time is wasted on that.

I feel like I spend, or have spent a lot of time trying to unravel some grand mystery that is akin to the "scroll of truth" meme that we've seen that ends up reading "You were selfish, entitled, and emotionally immature", and part of me wanted to, and still wants to throw it away like the character in the meme and keep searching for some deeper meaning, but I feel like all that does is distract me from the work I need to do on these character defects and examine some of my automatic thoughts and ingrained patterns of behavior because once I can identify them, and challenge/replace them with more authentic and positive behaviors then does a deeper meaning really matter?

Thanks for this post. I always like to read what you have to say and I hope that you are well.

posts: 12   ·   registered: Jun. 22nd, 2021   ·   location: Missouri
id 8690157
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 12:10 PM on Saturday, September 25th, 2021

I remember rolling my eyes at the term "The Work" when I first arrived here. I mean, how hard could it be to get over "a mistake"? 🙄

Looking in the mirror and seeing who you really are has been one of the most sobering experiences of my life. I had this image in my head of who I thought I was and carefully crafted it over my lifetime. Peeling that away exposed the rot underneath. I wasn’t the moral nice guy I had told myself over and over again. I used to sneer at cheaters; after all I was too good to ever do something like that.

It does feel good to be on the other side of "the work’. I’m certainly not done as I think this is a life long process.

Me -FWS

posts: 1865   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2016
id 8690169
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 foreverlabeled (original poster member #52070) posted at 12:45 AM on Friday, October 1st, 2021

The Wayward Forum has been a quiet place lately. As much as I would like to think it is because there aren’t as many waywards, I don’t believe that is the case. I rather believe that people are actually more afraid of the work.

It has been, and it has concerned me as well. Not because people are afraid of the work, I think that is a natural reaction and unfortunately something not too many actually get to that point, but because of those who come here for help and there's not much to be found. Its enough for me to reconsider phasing out. I am so grateful for the WS that were here when I showed up. I mean the BSs were equally as helpful, but to have those that were in my shoes meant the world to me. I don't think my path would have been that different but I don't think the time frame would have been the same or worse if I even would have stuck around like I did. And it was crucial to my journey that I did. I think this was part of my want to repost and add to this. I would love for it to be pinned at the top for the sole reason of years worth of input and advice. Not all of this came to me on my own, it was a collective effort.

It’s funny, I talk about things that I wouldn’t dream of talking about prior to my A.

 oh same girl, 100%. The combination of authenticity and vulnerability is so much better than the alternative. And plus, its easier. You do risk emotional distress going this route, not everyone is so accepting, to mention Brene Brown again, her "Arena" speech. Yeah your feedback doesn't matter to me if you're not in the arena getting your ass kicked too. I feel that.

I'm actually in a position right now where I have to actively practice this, which is great! I'm dating someone who we both come with baggage, and I made it clear in the beginning my intentions moving forward in a relationship some of my wants and needs to have a healthy thing going. I've never been so authentic in my life, just the other day I got in my head, wanted to throw my walls up. And absolutely nothing to do with him, just questioning my worth of all things. I was brutally honest about it, and truthfully confessed all my thoughts and feelings about it, which isn't pretty of course. And because of the baseline we set in the beginning with our expectations of each other, we can talk freely of all the good but also the ugly, especially the ugly. No judgment. We actually both practice what healthy looks like and un-learning bad habits together. We are a team in the "arena". Its refreshing.

Your statement applies to all of us who are not being true to ourselves or who want to change.

Of course it does! This isn't the secret recipe for wayward change, this is what it takes no matter who you are.

I am so happy for you that you've managed your work and have arrived at such a happier, healthier, and more authentic place. Everyone deserves that peace.

thank you Ellie, and you're right everyone does deserve this. I hope everyone who finds themselves here finds peace. The other driving factor for this post.

Its going to take work, and you might find the destination you land at is so far from the idea you had in your head. I know mine is. Letting go of the outcome isn't just in your relationship, its letting go of all preconceived ideas and trusting the process.

Hey GreenRanger! I'm glad you are still around, still working. I know its quiet around these parts of SI. I really am doing well and I hope the same for you.

because once I can identify them, and challenge/replace them with more authentic and positive behaviors then does a deeper meaning really matter?

funny enough when you get past a certain point you might come to realize the deeper meaning is far from where you thought when you first start off. Or rather you open up a world of what "meaning" really is.

Looking in the mirror and seeing who you really are has been one of the most sobering experiences of my life.

yup. The bright side is that you get the chance to change who reflects back in the mirror. And practicing honesty in every aspect of your life is the only way to turn it around. Its hard because not everyone has the courage to do so, but for those who muster that bravery it opens doors I for one never knew existed.

[This message edited by foreverlabeled at 12:54 AM, Friday, October 1st]

33 divorced Madhatter
Time is no ones friend, nor their enemy. It moves forward at its own fixed pace, careless of our wants to speed it or slow it.

posts: 2523   ·   registered: Mar. 1st, 2016   ·   location: southeast
id 8691108
default

ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 11:13 PM on Friday, October 1st, 2021

The bright side is that you get the chance to change who reflects back in the mirror. And practicing honesty in every aspect of your life is the only way to turn it around. Its hard because not everyone has the courage to do so, but for those who muster that bravery it opens doors I for one never knew existed.

I couldn't agree more. Not having to sneak around and living that lie, both with the affair and the thoughts in my head, has been quite liberating.

Me -FWS

posts: 1865   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2016
id 8691281
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Durack ( new member #79471) posted at 5:56 PM on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

This is a great post.

I am a FWS who cheated 18 years ago, and I see so much of myself in your words. We have been together since the A and both felt we had moved on. SI was a great place for both of us during that time. I have just rejoined SI because some unresolved issues have surfaced as delayed PISD, and I sought out this community again. In retrospect perhaps I should have stayed all along.

Your comments on the ego, what it can do and how it can be dealt with have really struck a chord with me and given me something to think about.

Thanks

Take Care

Durack

FWS 2002/3. Still together.

posts: 1   ·   registered: Oct. 11th, 2021   ·   location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
id 8692948
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